A dead 200-pound (91 kg) black bear was found on a bench on the North Carolina State University campus on Tuesday, and officials believe it was shot and then dumped there by someone.
State wildlife and university authorities are investigating how the hulking male bear's carcass might have gotten on the bench in a commons area known as "The Brickyard" at the start of the school's final exams week. Authorities said the animal had a wound consistent with a gunshot.
"There's a lot of concern about why this occurred and why somebody went through the effort of putting the bear there," said Major David Kelly of the university's police department.
Kelly said that authorities reviewed the school's schedule of upcoming athletic events to see if any opponents had a bear as a mascot, but none did. North Carolina State's mascot is a wolf, and its athletes are known as the NC State Wolfpack.
The carcass was taken to the university's veterinary school for a necropsy shortly after it was reported to police around 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Kelly said.
He said that the cause and time of death had not yet been determined, and added that authorities are reviewing surveillance footage around the campus.
Black bear hunting in North Carolina is permitted under strict rules, but this year's season is over, Kelly said.
Students began final exams on Monday, so the library, which is close to where the bear carcass was found, was likely to be crowded all week, according to a spokesman for the university.
Instagram user Justin Jones, whose profile describes him as a senior at the university, posted a picture of the bear to the social media site with the caption, "Just a casual dead bear on campus this morning. No big deal, right?"
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Barbara Goldberg in New York, and Gunna Dickson)